Never raced cyclocross before? Only spectated? No worries… anyone that can ride a bike can have a blast at our races–no racing experience necessary. We put together this page to help you get started.
WHY RACE CYCLOCROSS?
Good question… It’s painful, sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy, sometimes very muddy, sometimes hot, sometimes cold and you’ll probably get heckled. So why do people do it?
Cyclocross is all about the smiles, well, and a little bit about the mud. It’s a little quirky riding a modified road bike around a muddy field for an ~hour, but that just makes it all the more appealing.
People that regularly race cyclocross love it and keep coming back year after year. There are a ton of reasons why…
- Community – The cyclocross community is what keeps people coming back. You’ll find lots of smiles, high fives, teams, friends and families. If you do it long enough you might find your home in the cyclocross community. We are like a huge family.
- Competition – We design our categories so everyone has someone to race. You’ll find plenty of outlet for your competitive juices, no matter how fast or slow you are. People don’t take it all too seriously. And if you don’t really care about competing, just show up and ride your bike. Maybe your competition is all the other fun activities like our Grail Hunt.
- The Vibe– The overall vibe at our races is great. It just feels good to be there. Everyone is welcome!
- Fitness– Racing will get you in great shape, no matter what condition you are starting with. You ride harder and you get faster. You feel really good when you are done.
- Fun– The whole thing adds up to a ton of fun.
- And the best reason: you can never have too many bikes and if you want to get into it properly, then you might want to invest in a cyclocross bike
WHO RACES CYCLOCROSS at Cyclocross Crusade
Anyone and everyone. Really. All are welcome!
If you can ride a bike, you can race cyclocross. You don’t need to have been an ex-pro racer. You don’t need to be on a team. You don’t need to have fancy carbon everything. You don’t need to be in amazingly good shape. Just come out and try it.
We have categories to try to accommodate everyone. We have 4-year-old kids racing and 70-year-old’s. Women’s specific categories, non-binary, men, beginners, many age categories. You name it.
If you are totally new, we suggest you race in the beginner category. Afterwards talk to other racers, find out the correct lines that should have been taken. We all started somewhere! Everyone is always willing to lend a hand. Oh, and don’t puke at the finish line. The officials hate that.
WHAT ARE OUR CYCLOCROSS COURSES LIKE?
Courses are typically 1.5 to 2 miles long and cover a variety of surfaces, Depending on the category you are in, you might do 4 laps or 9.
The courses will feature obstacles, like barriers, Monolith’s, sand or steep pitches that force you to dismount and run for a bit. The obstacles are what make cyclocross so fun. You will know where the best feature is based on all the cheers!
Some courses have sections that are more challenging to ride. If you can’t ride, walk/run it! Some also become slip and slides in the mud!
Where a race is held influences the course layout dramatically and this means cyclocross courses can vary a huge amount. You’ll never get bored with repetition between courses. The most interesting part of the course, and what sets them apart from other cycle sport disciplines, is the obstacles.
Some venues lend themselves well to natural obstacles like steep banks, drops, and sometimes sandpits. Other times the organizers will introduce man-made obstacles like wooden hurdles – popular obstacles at all levels of racing.
WHAT TYPE OF BIKE CAN I USE?
The most common bikes ridden are cyclocross and gravel bikes (Hey, what tire pressure you riding?)
Mountain bikes work fine. Hard tails better than soft tails. Just remember the heavier the bike to start with the heavier it can get in the mud. And the heavier it will be to carry across the obstacles or even run up stairs!
You will want some traction for the looser sections, We personally like the Donnelly PDX tires!!
At Cyclocross Crusade races, there are only three rules related to your bike:
1) Two working brakes at all times are a must
2) If you are racing the single speed category, you must have only one gear available (zip tying the shifter is acceptable)
3) No bar ends allowed
It’s not a bad idea to have your bike checked out by a mechanic. There is nothing worse than getting all charged up to race only to break your chain or hanger on the first lap (this leads to a long run or painful walk to the finish line). We do have neutral support in the pit but they cannot do a complete overhaul onsite.
DAY OF THE RACE TIPS
It’s race day! You are probably going to be nervous. But really there is nothing to worry about.
A few tips for you:
- Show up to the venue 1.5 – 2 hours before your category starts (Just don’t show up before the crew at 6am! sometimes the gates will still be locked!). This will give you plenty of time to get suited up, make sure your registration is set, warm up, do a practice lap, and pee nervously at least 5 times before the race (or write the will they make it report).
- Take a practice lap on the course before your start. Getting one lap in before you start really helps you to feel more confident about what you are facing. This is also a time to ask other riders what line to take. Unless you are in the very first race wave at the start of the day, you won’t have time to ride your practice lap immediately before your race, so you’ll need to check the course preview times that are scheduled throughout the day. So, your practice lap might be 45-60 minutes before your start time.
- Get to the start line at least 10 minutes before your race starts. We will call you up to the start line 5-10 minutes before your race starts, and you’ll want to make sure you are in the correct wave. When you arrive at the start area you will see a bunch of flags. Line up next to the last digit of your race number and wait for call ups
- If you have any questions at all, please find one of our crew members or go to registration.
- Once racing has begun, warm up on the course is not allowed. There will be some short warm-up periods allowed; check on the race flyer or at registration. Please do not ride while other categories are racing. The penalty for this may be disqualification.
- Rowdy spectators are a part of Cyclocross so please enjoy yourselves; however, please do not ring any bells around the finish line. The bell signifies the last lap and oxygen-deprived competitors are easily confused. Take your cowbells to the run ups, and yell and ring to your heart’s content.
- If an official removes you from a race, requests for you to put on a helmet, or any other request please follow their instructions. Failure to comply with requests from officials may result in you being excluded from racing in the future.
- If you have a suggestion or concern, contact the promoters, the Chief Official or Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA). Please do not complain to a volunteer or the property manager
- Be a responsible citizen. Poor behavior reflects upon us all. Don’t urinate in public, litter, drink alcohol when not allowed, ride across sports fields, or use foul language. Complaints from the general public make it very difficult to secure a location for races the next year.
- Have FUN!
Race day Checklist!
- Shoes / socks (extra socks for mud)
- Race outfit (shorts/bibs/shirt/skinsuit/sports bra)
- Chamois cream
- Race outfit for course preview
- Official race number / safety pins
- Cash / $5 (for parking fee at Rainier H.S.)
- Arm warmers / leg warmers
- Hydration (water, electrolytes, etc.)
- Water bottles
- lunch & snacks
- Towel(s) (for drying off)
- Outfit to change into after race
- Flip flops
- Mud boots / mud shoes
- Wallet / ID
- Garmin / bike computer
- Garbage bag (for muddy clothes)
- Garbage bag (for garbage — pack it in, pack it out)
- Hand sanitizer
- Rain coat or sunscreen( sometimes Both needed)
Common Questions Asked:
Q: How does the pit work in a cyclocross race?
A: Almost every cyclocross race has a pit, or technical area, where you can get repairs or even change bikes. At higher levels, riders have a dedicated pit crew to help them. In races that have a lot of mud, riders come into the pit and take a fresh, clean bike. Their mechanic cleans the dirty bike while the rider is out on the course. Changing wheels is slow, so in the event of a flat tire riders just change the entire bike!
More sophisticated riders have multiple wheels with different tire tread shapes, so they can even change from a slick to a knobby tire to suit changing weather or course conditions. Mechanics even tweak tire pressure slightly up or down to suit their rider’s preference so their bike handles better as the weather or conditions change.
If you’re an amateur, you might not have a dedicated pit crew, but you can still put a spare bike, tools, or wheels in the pit so you can keep racing in the event of a mechanical.
Q: Why don’t cyclocross races have a fixed number of laps?
A: At almost every level of cyclocross, both professional and amateur, races are of an unknown distance. You’ll know the time for your category, for example, “45 minutes”, but not the distance. A race advertised as 45 minutes means that the winner should take about 45 minutes to complete the race.
Officials watch the first lap or two to figure out how long most riders will take to ride a lap, and then post lap cards indicating 4, 3, 2, 1 laps to go as the race progresses.
Q: What does “Bell Lap” mean?
A: The final lap of the race. Usually the organizer rings a bell as each rider crosses the finish line with one lap remaining.
Q: Don’t the riders get cold/wet?
A: Yes. Some riders use embrocation to protect exposed skin and keep warm. It’s just part of the experience. Cyclocross is an all-weather sport.
Q: What’s special about a cyclocross bike? It looks pretty much like a road bike.
A: Cyclocross bikes have a design inspired by road bikes, but a road bike isn’t suitable for ‘cross. Cyclocross bikes have room in the frame and fork for bigger, Cyclocross tires (which are wider and have a higher air volume than road tires; plus a knobby tread), more mud clearance, a higher bottom bracket (to clear obstacles) and lower gearing compared to a road bike.
The brakes on a cyclocross bike are different from a road bike, too. Road bikes historically have used caliper brakes, while proper cyclocross bikes used cantilever brakes; and later, disc brakes.
Q: How do I line up at the Start?
A: At Cyclocross Crusade races you will line up next to a flag that is numbered between 0-9. Every race they are in a different order. The number on the flag corresponds with the last digit of your race number. For example 314 will line up by flag #4
Q:What are the cones that mark these trails?
A:If cones are being used to mark the course red/orange cones will mark the right side and the yellow cones will mark the left side.
Q:I’m new to this how do I spectate and move around the course?
A: IF you are unfamiliar with a cyclocross course it may be confusing to know the direction when there are no racers in sight. IF cones mark the course red will be on the right side of the rider and yellow will be on the left side. When Crossing the Course, always use a designated crossing and look both ways. Allow plenty of time to cross- those racers are fast and they don’t want to have to slow down to avoid hitting you.